Saturday, September 24, 2016

261.2 - Another name on the list: Terrence Crutcher killed by police

Another name on the list: Terrence Crutcher killed by police

Okay, we have to go through this again. When is it finally too much? When is it finally too many times? When is it finally too often? When do the lies - the lies we tell ourselves - finally stop?

Terrence Crutcher
The latest too much too many too often comes out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. On September 16, Terrence Crutcher, 40 years old, became the latest addition to the ever-lengthening list of names of unarmed black men who have been shot and killed by police. He was, in fact, according to a Washington Post database, at least the 15th unarmed black man to have been killed by police so far in 2016.

And, as we have found all too often in past cases, the shape-shifting police accounts were more about looking for a justification for the killing than about investigating it.

About the only thing all the accounts agree on is that Crutcher's vehicle was stopped in the road. They can't even agree on if the car was running or not. The initial police story said it was stalled but Scott Wood, the lawyer for the cop who pulled the trigger, who is named Betty Shelby, said she found it with the engine running and the doors open.

That same initial cop story had it that two officers were walking toward the SUV when Crutcher approached them from the side of the road. But, again according to her lawyer, Shelby arrived on the scene first and alone and had already spoken to Crutcher and - this is important, so remember it - she had already checked the driver's side of the car when Crutcher approached her.

That initial cop tale went on to claim that Crutcher "refused to follow commands" and when "they got closer to the vehicle, he reached inside the vehicle and at that time there was a Taser deployment, and a short time later there was one shot fired."

Wait - "short time later?" He was tasered and then they still shot him? Oh, that won't do at all. So it became, in the lawyer's words, the taser and the gun were fired simultaneously. No gap. Because he reached into the car. Remember that.

Most of this got blown away when the videos were released, which clearly shows Crutcher walking slowly towards his car - away from the cops, not approaching them - with his hands raised, followed closely by one cop, then two, then four, at least three of who have weapons - guns or Tasers - drawn. Crutcher can be seen leaning against his car before he suddenly falls to the ground with a woman's voice going "shots fired."

He lies on the ground bleeding to death as three cops, in a moment that is bitterly amusing, back away from him as if they are afraid he will rise from the grave to attack them. Crutcher lies there about two minutes before anyone even bothers to check on him. No attempt to render any sort of aid is made, even though it turns out that Shelby has some EMT training and had a trauma bag in her trunk.

Shelby claimed she thought Crutcher was behaving like someone possibly under the influence of PCP and the cops made a big point the next day of announcing that some PCP had conveniently been found in Crutcher's car, although they wouldn't (or couldn't) say where in the car.

Screen capture
But the idea of killing someone because they looked like they were high, even on angel dust, obviously wouldn't fly, so we're left with the claim that Crutcher, with four cops gathered around him and a police helicopter circling overhead, reached into his car for some unknown, totally irrational, but we are supposed to assume nefarious reason, justifying his immediate execution.

But the next day, attorneys for the Crutcher family showed an enhanced screen capture from the police video taken from the helicopter which appeared to show that the window was closed with a streak of blood running all the way down the window and across the side of the car. Appeared to show, that is, that there was no way Crutcher could have reached inside the car. That it was a flat out lie.

Now the image that was shown obviously is not going to be crisp and sharp, being an enhanced still taken from a video. So it has its limitations. But I am going to offer my own take on it.

Screen capture with my reference points
It appears to me that the driver's side window does seem to be a little reflective, which would mean that there is glass there, which would mean it was closed. Compare it to the windshield, where we know there was glass.

On the other hand and in all fairness - which is more than was given to Terrence Crutcher - I suspect that the line from the top right corner of the window frame, identified as blood by the family, is actually a shoulder strap of a seat belt. However, at the very bottom of the window frame, immediately above the door panel, is a blotch that appears to closely match in color what is undeniably blood streaked down the side of the car.

My conclusion? The window was closed. The cops were lying.

But here's where something becomes important, something I told you to remember. Remember that according to her lawyer, Shelby had already checked the driver's side of the car - recalling, too, that she said the door was open - before she had any interaction with Crutcher.

So even if I'm wrong and the family is wrong and the window was down, and even if Crutcher for whatever unfathomable reason did reach in through that window, Betty Shelby still, based on her own account, would have had no reason to shoot Terrence Crutcher because she would have already checked out that area and would have known there was no weapon there.

Every version of the story offered by police breaks down. And the meaning of the arguments made is even more chilling than the deceptions.

According to Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan, Shelby told a dispatcher "that she [was] not having cooperation" from Crutcher. She then aimed and took fire. So what, you don't "cooperate" and so we kill you?

Shelby thought Crutcher was on PCP. So what, we think you're high and so we kill you?

A man in the helicopter can be heard saying "time for a Taser." He then says: "That looks like a bad dude, too." So, what, we think you "look like a bad dude" and so we kill you?

You reach through a window to where we know there is no weapon. So, what, so we kill you?

I don't know exactly what motivated Betty Shelby to pull the trigger that Friday evening. But I do know this: When Benjamin Crump, attorney for the family, called it "clearly a case of excessive force," he was wrong.

What this was, was murder.

Sources cited in links:

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